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AMADA’s NEX III Punching Tools Offer a New Way to Work

Punching remains an important part of fabrication. It is used in a myriad of applications from aerospace to medical products. While turret punch presses and punch/laser combinations are now commonplace and extremely reliable, for some fabricators punch tooling has not kept pace with the machine tools themselves.


You might know the consequences of neglecting or mismanaging punch tooling, and you may have experienced them: excessively marked blanks, damaged materials, damaged tooling, inaccurate parts, even machine downtime. You might be losing time and money to unscheduled maintenance, extra programming, or lost tooling:


  • Maintenance. Maintenance is done “when we can do it,” meaning there is no set schedule for tool maintenance, and when times get busy, maintenance is the last thing on the list. Furthermore, the quality of the grind depends on the operator, in what is still a manual process. Exacerbating the situation, tooling jobs are done at the last minute, right before they are needed—or worse, right after.
  • Programming. Some fabricators also find that a tool needed for an upcoming job is damaged. The new tool is ordered, but when it arrives there is new programming necessary to incorporate it into the machine and information system.
  • Location. Do you share tooling across machines? Across operators? Ever have your tooling manager out for the day and realize how much information that person carries around with them?

All these things are addressed by the NEX III system. First, we will zoom in on the tooling itself, and then look at it from a system point of view.


The NEX III punch tooling is an exciting departure from the technology of the past. At the core, however, the solid punch body is not only still valid and useful, it is fully interchangeable with the past generations of AMADA punches.


The differences in the NEX III line represent a leap forward in design and technology. Two things are immediately evident. First, there is a unique QR code etched into the side of the tool. This identifier is important in terms of tracking location, wear, maintenance, etc.


Second, there is a “quick button” that controls several operations. When you push the quick button, this unlocks the tool. No Allen wrench or other outside help is necessary. With the tool unlocked, you can rotate the guide. This adjusts the height of the tool; meanwhile, the guide stays on the tool. Adjustments are made in increments of 0.15 mm (see Figure 1).

AMADA NEX III tool height adjustment
Figure 1: Height adjustment with no tools

If you match the mark positions you can remove the guide by hand, and disassemble the tool. It reduces setup time and takes the old fasteners and Allen wrenches out of play (see Figure 2).

AMADA NEX III guide removal
Figure 2: Guide removal using no tools

All about the ID environment


Managing important fabrication assets like punch tooling must be done but only recently has any company built a systematic solution for maintenance and management. AMADA’s NEX III punch family does not exist in a vacuum, it is part of an environment of multiple areas that are managed centrally.


One of the key components to taking a systematic approach is the QR code etched into the side of each tool. Remember the little QR code on the side of the guide? It is a permanent, unique marker for that punch, and it is relevant across all parts of the ID tooling environment.


In Figure 3 we see that environment. Central to management of everything is the AMADA ID Tooling System (AITS), which lives on a server that is connected across the shop to turret punch presses, tooling cabinets, and the ID-TOGU Automated Tool Grinder (be sure to see our other story about the ID-TOGU in this edition of the InTech newsletter).

AMADA ID Tool Management System
Figure 3: Machine tools, cabinets, and the ID-TOGU grinder all in touch with the AITS Server

Digital tooling management


The AITS system does more than supply connectivity. It changes the way you monitor and manage punch tooling. Every tool is laser etched with a unique QR code. The system uses the code to track important data such as location, hit count, how much the tool has been sharpened, the height of the tool—it all goes to the AITS Server. (A sample screen is shown in Figure 4.)

Screen shot of the AITS Server
Figure 4: A sample screen from AITS

A centralized database keeps track of everything, and communicates it to all the compatible machine tools in the shop that have an AMNC 3i control or newer. AITS also shares information with the engineering office. Tooling conditions are available in real-time. Many of the records AITS keeps are configurable; for example, you can set wear limits that trigger maintenance actions or tooling reorders. Even the ID-TOGU grinder uploads information to the AITS server, eliminating manual data entry. The AITS Server can be viewed remotely as well.


The work and time savings are substantial. With NEX III and its environment, you always know the location and condition of the tool. You do not need any extra programming; the most you will do is enter your own criteria for maintenance triggers, etc.


The most obvious time and action saver is in maintenance. The NEX III can be disassembled/assembled/adjusted with no external tools required. These processes use fewer steps and take a fraction of the time. The NEX III line of tooling gets you ready for a new way to work, and the new results that will come from an innovative approach to punch tooling.

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